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Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne


The thing about the first "Max Payne" game that is so great is that is doesn't fuck around too much with what it's about:  it's about killing.  Sure, you've got the noir storytelling, complete with graphic novel and the like, and you've got plenty of drama thanks to the death of lead character Max Payne's family at the hands of vicious dealers, crooked politicians and dirty cops.  But the essence of the game is its Bullet Time gimmick; you run around through various New York City locales and slow down time to take out bad guys by hitting a button, allowing Max to dive in slo-mo and focus his aim to take out baddies with shotguns, grenades, dual pistols and the occasional automatic.

There are so many bodybags to be filled in the first "Max Payne" that it almost becomes numbing after a while to continuously fill up bad guys with so much lead.  So, where would the folks at Rockstar (makers of such mild kiddie fare as "State of Emergency" and the "Grand Theft Auto" series) take us in the sequel?

I read a number of reviews about "Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne" before slapping down the cash for it.  This was a good move, because although I have both an Xbox and a PS2, the PS2 version is apparently MUCH worse than the Xbox version, so I went out and paid $30 for a new copy from the local Targét and I must say, this is just about the perfect price point for this game.

Why?  Well, there's not really much to do in "Max Payne 2", thanks to the fact that--start to finish--the whole game can be beaten on "Detective" level (normal difficulty setting) in about eight hours, maybe less if you employ Bullet Time often enough.  The plot is quite interesting, featuring a character named Mona Sax that tried to kill Payne in the first game that returns as a love interest in this sequel.  Max is in love, but he's got a crime to solve featuring some gun runner and a thug named Vlad.  In between, Max and Mona take out about 500 perps over the course of the game, diving and rolling and killing at every turn, and the action is quite sexy, thanks to improved graphics on the Xbox (facial mapping and Bullet Time moves are fantastic) and the sheer number of times you need to break out the sawed-off and the Desert Eagles to lay down some street justice.  The worst part of the first game, those ridiculous dream sequences that start off each Chapter of the story, are gone, and good riddance to them.

Extra modes don't add much to the "Max Payne 2" experience; beating the game on "Hard-Boiled" setting isn't like climbing Mount Everest, and knowing where enemies are going to pop out only makes the game a little easier, even if those bad guys take longer to die.  But, for getting out a little aggression, "Max Payne 2" is a perfect pick-me-up, especially after you've beaten the game once and want to just play a particular chapter over again.  Who doesn't love hearing bad guys yell out

"Look!  It's Payne!!"

Rating:  eBay


Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09